AROOSTOOK COUNTY– When it comes to welcoming a new life into the world, every delivery is special. But the birth of Madden Brian Hebert at The Aroostook Medical Center (TAMC) on August 17 will long be remembered as extraordinary.
Madden, the first child of 25-year-old Angel Hebert and 29-year-old Brian Hebert of Presque Isle, will forever share a special bond with his maternal grandmother, 49-year-old Linda Sirois of Madawaska - that’s because she carried and gave birth to her grandson so her own daughter could experience the same joy of motherhood she does.
“She is amazing. I couldn’t have asked for a better mother. It’s such a great and selfless gift she has given us,” said Angel. “She brought her grandson into the world and we now have our beautiful baby boy. We are all super excited.”
It’s a miracle Angel and Brian had feared would not happen. Angel, who has a heart condition, had been told by her cardiologist that carrying a child to term would pose a considerable risk to both her and the baby; he therefore strongly advised against a pregnancy.
“I couldn’t imagine not offering to do this. I couldn’t see them going through life without a child, while I am capable of helping them,” said Linda. “It’s only nine months for me to give them a child for life. I knew it could be done. I had heard of a 60-year-old grandmother serving as a surrogate for her grandchild, so I knew it was possible.”
In late summer 2011, the young couple, who began dating 11 years ago as high school sweethearts in Madawaska and have been married for three years, took Angel’s mother up on her most generous offer. After several calls to various clinics throughout New England and being turned away because of her age, Linda hooked up with the Reproductive Science Center (RSC) of New England in Lexington, Massachusetts, and the adventure began.
As part of the screening process, Linda had to undergo various testing to ensure she was in optimal health to carry a child. After being cleared, the process began. Much of the testing and procedures necessary in the couple months that followed were done at local hospitals and results forwarded to the RSC. Linda and Angel were in constant contact with the clinic as they each had their own agenda of instructions to follow.
“Angel had her calendar of instructions to follow for egg retrieval, and I had mine for preparing my body for embryo transfer,” said Linda. “It was intense, but we took it step by step, one day at a time.”
Finally, on November 28, after a couple months of “do-this, do-that, take-this, take-that,” the couple returned to the RSC where the in-vitro fertilization using an egg taken from Angel and sperm from Brian took place. Three days later on December 1, the resulting embryo was implanted in Linda and everyone began anxiously awaiting to see if the procedure would be successful.
“The process leading up to the transfer seemed to take forever, but the transfer itself was done in 20 minutes,” said Linda.
The great news came on December 13, when Linda took a pregnancy test and learned she was in fact pregnant for the first time in two decades. The last time she gave birth was to twin sons Michael and Matthew 20 years ago.
“It’s been an enjoyable pregnancy”, said Linda. “Everything seemed to go smoothly and fall into place. It was likely my easiest pregnancy. I felt good and had no complications. I also had a great deal of support and well wishes from friends and family, and the community at large. God was with us throughout this whole process.”
Part of the reason things may have seemed less challenging is that Linda was not alone in her adventure. In addition to having a great support network in the form of her husband Mike, and of course Angel and Brian, she just happened to be pregnant at the same time as her oldest daughter, 26-year-old Kristal Duval – which certainly lent itself to another unforgettable and unique mother-daughter experience.
Linda established care with TAMC’s Dr. Joyce Hebert and for the nine months that followed, Angel, a dietitian at TAMC, and Brian attended pre-natal appointments and did all the regular things expecting parents do – like listen to the baby’s heartbeat and record the ultra sound to share with family and friends. The couple would also travel to Madawaska on weekends to visit with family and check in on Linda’s progress – all the while doing anything and everything necessary to prepare for Madden’s birth.
“When you’re pregnant you are constantly reminded that a baby is on the way. This was a slightly different scenario. It was so surreal,” said Angel. “I wanted it all to go so smoothly for both my mother and our baby. Thankfully, everyone at TAMC was so helpful in making things go smoothly. It was a situation that hadn’t been seen here before. I was really pleased to see the reaction of the staff – everyone was so excited for us and so helpful and accommodating.”
Plans were coming together nicely and a date of August 17 was set for a scheduled C-section delivery for baby Madden. However, before giving birth to her second grandson, Linda would first welcome her first, Everett Duval on June 9.
Just over two months later it was Madden’s turn to enter the world. As expected, it was a day filled with emotion for both the family and team of TAMC caregivers who were part of the amazing journey and delivery.
“It was a pretty amazing experience,” said Dr. Hebert. “This was the first time in my career that I have ever delivered a baby under these circumstances and it could not have gone better. Through the love and caring of the family and the members of our team, a dream came true, and a beautiful, healthy baby boy now has two truly wonderful parents and an extraordinary and giving extended family. This is one of the most memorable moments in my career and I was pleased to be a part of it.”
Hebert’s sentiments were shared by all of the caregivers in the operating room who took part in the procedure and witnessed a mother give her daughter the ultimate gift of love and life. That precious package, Madden Brian Hebert, a bundle of joy weighing in at 7 lbs., 14 oz., was welcomed into the world on Friday, August 17 at exactly 8 a.m.
“My TAMC family bonded with my own family,” said Angel. “This is a truly amazing story. It was a part of our lives, and we were caught up in it; but if you step back, it is just amazing, and that really hit home the day Madden was born.”
A week after the birth, baby, parents, and grandmother are all doing fine. Even after the amazing delivery, however; Linda feels she did what any caring mother, who was able, would do if presented with the same situation.
“It was their child all along. I was just “babysitting” for a short time, until he was able to survive in the outside world under the care of his parents. I was just fortunate and blessed to be a part of this experience and be able to help bring him into the world,” said Linda, who along with husband Mike and Madden’s paternal grandparents John and Diane Hebert – also of Madawaska – are now enjoying spoiling their grandson like any good grandparents do.
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